Nina Tolksdorf is a postdoctoral fellow at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies at the Free University of Berlin. She studied modern German literature, comparative literature and philosophy at the Technical University of Berlin and the University of Aberdeen and received her PhD from Johns Hopkins University.
Nina Tolksdorf’s dissertation, “Precarious Sincerities. Nietzsche – Kleist – Kafka,” formulates a concept of Redlichkeit (sincerity/ integrity/ truth-telling) that is constituted by both performativity and rhetoric. It argues that Nietzsche, Kleist, and Kafka problematize a concept of sincerity that relies on the possibility of adequate representation. However, instead of dismissing sincerity altogether they focus on what is being said and on what is being established by speaking and acting sincerely. Her project thus exposes a rhetoric of sincerity that indicates an ethics beyond the subject – an ethics, which she develops further by drawing on post-structuralist theory and deconstruction.
Her new project, tentatively entitled Pantomime and/as Literature, will examine pantomime in early 20th century literature and art. Her research shows that pantomime plays a crucial role in revealing mimetic strategies and functions of texts, films, and graphics and displays the precarious nature of what it mimes. Because pantomime occupies a status between dancing, acting, and writing, it is not yet established in literary criticism. However, precisely this peculiar position enables a fruitful dialogue between film, literary modernism, and performance studies that examine their mimetic strategies and, in turn, expose pantomimic features of language.